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Lob City Highlight of the Day
The entire game was a highlight reel, but this particular alley-oop deserves another look.
The one issue with being an experienced fighter and waiting for your shots is that sometime you get punched in the mouth and never quite recover for the rest of the fight. Well, the Clippers punched the Celtics right in the mouth with a double digit lead halfway through the first, and the Celtics never recovered. Boston did cut the deficit a couple of times to single digits, just to have the Clippers go on a run. In the end, the Clippers won by 29 points, their seventh double digit win in a row, and extended their win streak to 15.
During the win streak, the Clippers have won 11 games by double digits, five of which have been by 20 points or more. During said streak, they have given up 100 points just twice and on average are only giving up 87.5 points a game. On offense they are averaging 103.8 points and have only been held under a 100 points four times. The point is, they are playing extremely well on both ends of the floor, and their efficiency rankings reflect that. They are ranked fourth in offensive efficiency and second in defensive efficiency on the season.
The one thing that has to be noted is that December has been a cake walk of a schedule for the Clippers, and their strength of schedule has dropped all the down to 18th from first. January promises to be a lot tougher, however, with eight games coming against current playoff teams compared to just three in the month of December.
Tonight, the Clippers travel to Utah to kick off back-to-back games against the 15-15 Jazz. The Clippers already beat the Jazz by one point at the beginning of their current streak. Since then the Jazz are 6-6 and haven’t really improved on offense or defense; they rank 11th and 24th there, respectively.
The main reason last game was so close was the Clippers’ atrocious three point shooting, while the Jazz knocked down 45 percent of their long range shots. The Clippers’ three-point shooting woes have continued even though they have been shooting 44 percent over the course of their last three games. They have significantly improved, however, in defending the three point line, allowing just 28.5 percent shooting in their last eight games. I don’t expect the three point shooting advantage to favor the Jazz quite as much this time around.
Bill Simmons in his podcast has mentioned that each team has five or six games circled on their schedule as losses because of the brutal schedule. Tonight’s game might be one of those games for the Clippers. They have played five games in eight nights, and after playing a late game last night, they have to travel to play the Jazz on the road. For me, the expectation for tonight’s game is that the starters will get some rest. The Clippers’ bench, however, has been phenomenal and is the major reason they are blowing teams out on a consistent basis. My prediction is that the Clippers will extend the streak to 16 but probably not with another double digit win.
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